Gay Issues

Are the Boy Scouts of America Too Straight and Narrow?

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Recently a Boy Scouts of America spokesman attempted to justify the dismissal of an openly gay father as his son’s pack leader. “Our mission is to take young people and prepare them for an exceptional adulthood,” said spokesman Deron Smith, “That’s why out policy is the way it is.”

Somewhere between six and fourteen million children have gay parents.

Ridiculous statements like Smith’s, and the outdated notions of the Boy Scouts of America, increase the harassment that these kids might experience, increasing isolation and limiting their childhood experiences. Either they can participate in a judgmental organization or they can not join.

Looking at the statistics of the Boy Scouts of America, the statistics for BSA graduates are impressive.

  • 64% of all Air Force Academy graduates were boy scouts
  • 68% of all West Point graduates were boy scouts
  • 70% of all Annapolis graduates were boy scouts
  • 72% of all Rhodes Scholars were boy scouts
  • 85% of all FBI agents were boy scouts
  • 26 of the first 29 astronauts were boy scouts

My question is, would there be more tolerance among such impressive roster of graduates if they were helped being shaped by an organization that didn’t discriminate? If a child’s parent is deemed unsuitable to participate in their activities, what is the child going to believe.

Boy Scout enrollment numbers are dropping. Probably because of the alienation of millions of potential scouts, either from gay households (10-15 %) or gay teenagers (7-10 %). Perhaps if the BSA taught more acceptance and created true community role models, they could help offset such figures as these:

  • Gay, lesbian & bisexual youth represent 30% of all teen suicides. (Thomas Marino, Counseling Today, May, 1995)
  • Gay, lesbian & bisexual youth are more likely to have attempted suicide than their straight peers. (U.S. government survey, 1995, and a report from Harvard Medical School, the Mass. Dept. of Education, and Wake Forest University, 1998)
  • Gay, lesbian & bisexual youth represent 25% of all homeless youth in the U.S. (U.S. Department of Health Services, 1989)
  • 28% of gay/lesbian youth are forced to drop out of school because of their sexuality. (National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, 1998)
  • The average high school student in the U.S. hears anti-gay slurs 25 times per day. (Massachusetts Department of Education, 1994)
  • 1 out of 6 gay teens has been beaten badly enough to require medical attention. (Center for Disease Control)

The mission statement of BSA is “…[T]o prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” In their own words, they are undermining their values by not reaching out, and showing more of their duty to God to help all children be better citizens.